Meant for Each Other (Harlequin Super Romance Series #1535)

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Overview

Frankie Hale doesn't believe in love at first sight... until she meets Johnny Davis. And hours after that first meeting, he carves their initials into a tree, joining them forever. If only it were so easy.

From the very beginning, their on-again, off-again romance makes them the talk of their small Missouri town. It's clear that Frankie and Johnny are meant to be together, so why do they have to struggle to make this relationship work? Or are they learning the hard way that a ...

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Overview

Frankie Hale doesn't believe in love at first sight... until she meets Johnny Davis. And hours after that first meeting, he carves their initials into a tree, joining them forever. If only it were so easy.

From the very beginning, their on-again, off-again romance makes them the talk of their small Missouri town. It's clear that Frankie and Johnny are meant to be together, so why do they have to struggle to make this relationship work? Or are they learning the hard way that a love worth having takes a lifetime to build?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373715350
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 12/9/2008
  • Series: Harlequin Super Romance Series , #1535
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The telephone shrilled in the middle of the night and Frankie reacted as mothers and grandmothers do the world over: she bolted upright in bed, her heart pounding and her breathing shallow. The phone rang again, the sound terrifying in the dark bedroom, piercing and urgent. She stumbled out of bed and shuffled toward the table next to her reading chair, stubbing her toe in the process.

"Hello?"

"Mrs. Davis?"

"I, uh, I used to be. Yes, I'm Mrs. Davis. What—"

"It's your husband, ma'am."

"Ex-husband."

"Well, your name and phone number is the only one he carried. This is Memorial Hospital in St. Louis. Mr. Davis was just brought in by ambulance and—"

"Oh, my God!" Frankie sat down hard in the chair next to the phone table. "What happened?"

"A car accident—he ran into a tree. The weather's impossible and getting worse. Mr. Davis rolled his car on the icy roads."

"In St. Louis? He lives in Ch-Chicago. What—" Her mind struggled to make sense of all this. Did anything good ever begin with a middle-of-the-night phone call?

"Mrs. Davis," the disembodied voice interrupted, "we're not sure yet what happened, but as next of kin—"

"M-me?" The chilly temperature of the room seemed to sink right into her bones, and she began to shiver uncontrollably.

"If you could come—"

"I don't think he'd want to see me if I did."

"Is there anyone else we can notify? Parents, children—"

"Not our children. They're in no position to drop everything and go to him. They live too far away."

A silence, and then the woman said, "Mrs. Davis, I don't think you understand what's happened. Mr. Davis is in a coma and in extremely serious shape. If thereis anyone who cares about this man—"

"I care." Frankie choked out the words, deeply offended by the woman's insinuation. "I'll have to drive— airports shut down yesterday. I'm at least two hours away from the closest one anyway, and that's in good weather. As soon as this ice storm calms down, I'll drive."

"Very well. But I must stress, his condition is serious."

"Are you telling me he might d-die?"

"That's always that possibility in cases such as this. Of course, we're doing all we can."

"What are his injuries?"

"Broken bones, a concussion… There's a chance he suffered a heart attack, which could help explain the accident, but at this point we can't be sure."

A heart attack. Oh, God.

"Are you there, Mrs. Davis?"

"Yes, I'm sorry." She shook herself out of her sorrow. "I'll be there as soon as I can. If he wakes up, please don't tell him that I'm coming."

"I'll put a note on his chart about your wishes."

"Thank you. I'll wait until daylight to leave. I don't know how long it will take me to get there, due to road conditions."

Mission accomplished, the woman softened. "Drive carefully," she said. "It's awful out there. In the meantime, I'll give you the phone number here at the nurses' station in intensive care, and the address of the hospital. Do you have a pencil?"

"No, but give me a minute." Frankie turned on the light, blinked in the glare, then snatched up a pen. "I'm ready…"

Or maybe not, she thought, taking notes.

With sleep out of the question, Frankie threw a few things into a suitcase. She'd have to go by the café first and wait for Lynda to arrive for work to brief her on the situation, then call one or the other of her daughters. Secure in the car, she raised the garage door and backed out into a frenzy of frozen rain and darkness.

Heart in her throat, she turned on the windshield wipers and crept into the street. Visibility terrible even with the wipers at full tilt, she drove—or rather slipped and slid—to the front door of Reva's Café. For a frightening moment Frankie thought the car would slide right through the front door, but at the last minute the tires found traction.

Sleet and freezing rain continued to slam against the vehicle, and Frankie slumped over the steering wheel. She hadn't recovered from the shock and still felt weak and panicky. How the hell was she supposed to get to St. Louis in weather like this? It was a dumb idea. St. Louis was clear across the state. She'd be an idiot even to try.

But she had to try. Even if Johnny refused to see her, she couldn't leave him alone on the edge of death. I'm a good driver, she assured herself, trying to relax. I've lived through other ice storms and I'll live through this one. I can do this.

I can do this.

She couldn't bear to think of Johnny being alone in a strange city, in a strange hospital, perhaps dying or already…she caught her breath…dead. Tears threatened at the thought. She'd married the man three times and divorced him three times, but she would love him until the day she died. If only he'd been faithful. If only she'd been smart. If only he'd been honest. If only she'd been strong.

Crappy words, if only. All that was done and gone. The present was risky enough so she wouldn't think of what had been.

She threw herself out of the car and dashed to the front door of the café she'd inherited from her mother. Wet and cold, it took Frankie a long time to fumble the key into the lock and shove open the door. A flick of a switch flooded the room with light and she stepped inside, out of reach of the elements.

Reva's, an old-time diner of red vinyl and yellowed posters, had been a landmark here in Fairweather, Missouri, for decades. Opened in the 1940s by Grandma Reva Brown, it had been passed on to her daughter Mary Ann Brown Hale and then to Frankie Hale Davis. Popularity never wavered for the only decent place to eat in the small community.

Like her mother, Frankie took care to maintain the original ambience of the place. She kept the same heavy china mugs and dinnerware, the same blah-type linoleum on the floor, the posters of Roy Acuff and Eddie Arnold, the original sign that warned diners that only those wearing shoes and shirts would be served.

Fortunately the sign did not attempt to anticipate what was to come in fashion. Reva would never have condoned hot pants, for example, but Mary and Frankie were ready to bend to clothing trends… to a point.

The clock above the cashier's station declared it to be 3:47 a.m. Lynda should arrive soon to get ready for the 5:00 a.m. opening, assuming she could get here at all. In the meantime, Frankie might as well make herself useful. She didn't dare leave before dawn, nor would she call her daughters at this hour.

A pot of coffee was always the first order of business since turning on the lights meant the restaurant was open. Behind the counter, she filled the glass container with fresh cold water, then scooped in coffee grounds. The sound of the door opening sent her spinning around, surprise making her heart pound all over again.

Ron Baker stood there, shaking water and ice off his coat and hair like a big shaggy dog. "Brr." He threw off the jacket and it landed on the backrest of a booth before sliding onto the floor. "Was I ever glad to see your light when I came around the bend. What you doing here at this hour, girl?"

Frankie hadn't been a girl in years, but she didn't correct him. "Waiting to see if Lynda's going to make it in to open up this morning. What's your excuse?"

"I just hauled Ray Benjamin's ass out of a ditch south of here. Got my towing rig outside." He gestured with a shoulder toward the parking lot before ambling to the counter and swinging onto a stool. "Sure could use a cuppa joe."

"It'll be ready in a few minutes." She dried her hands on a nearby towel. "Been a busy night?"

"I'll say. If people don't get off these roads, some damn fool is gonna kill hisself sure." He looked at her with a hopeful expression on his broad, friendly face. "I don't suppose you could scare up a coupla' eggs and maybe a slice of ham back there, could you? I had a bologna sandwich for supper and ate the damned thing in the cab of my truck."

"I think I can find something," Frankie said, teasing him. She'd known Ron all her life, as she did most of the residents of this little town tucked in at the southwestern edge of the Missouri Ozarks. He was one of the good guys. So was his wife, Myrna.

Frankie turned to the refrigerator and started pulling out what she'd need. Behind her, Ron shifted on his stool.

"Looks like we're about to have more company," he said.

"Who—"

She turned just in time to see the door fly open and a bundled figure stumble inside. A knit hat flew one way, a long fringed scarf another, and Brenda Frazier emerged, her round, middle-aged face scrunched up and red from the cold.

Frankie shook her head in disbelief. "Brenda, what in the world are you doing out in this weather at this time of night?"

"I just got off work, believe it or not. I was supposed to finish my shift at eleven, but we had a couple of emergencies because of some highway pileup north of here. I hung around to help Doc out."

She struggled out of her heavy coat and hung it neatly on a hook near the door. "Was I ever glad to see your lights. I don't think I could have made it home, what with all the slipping and sliding."

Rubbing her hands together to warm them, Brenda joined Ron at the counter. Cheeks rosy as Santa's, she looked hopefully at the burbling coffeepot.

"I'd kill for a cup of coffee," she announced.

Frankie reached for cups. "I don't believe this. I thought I'd be here all alone."

Brenda cocked her head. "Now that you mention it, what are you doing here at this hour?"

Before Frankie could reply, the door slammed open again and Lynda barged in, her face pale and grim.

"I sideswiped a stop sign on Main Street and had to walk here," she said, struggling out of her coat and scarf. "I've seen an ice storm or two in my day, but this is a mother."

"I wasn't sure you'd make it today," Frankie said. "I intended to call you but—"

"Couldn't have. Phone lines are down." Brenda nodded at the newcomer. "Hi, Lynda. Glad you made it in, weather considered."

"And how." Lynda rubbed her hands together. "We're lucky we got electricity here, let alone phones." She glanced at Ron. "You're an early riser."

"Haven't been to bed yet."

"Bummer." Lynda grabbed a fresh apron from a hook behind the counter. "Thanks for opening for me," she said to Frankie.

Brenda leaned back on her stool. "Frankie was just about to tell us why she's here at this hour. You came in and got us off the subject."

"She came to open up," Lynda said reasonably.

Brenda looked skeptical. "I don't think so. Frankie?"

"Well… I didn't actually come in just to open up. I needed to talk to you, Lynda."

Lynda paused expectantly, hands on her apron strings.

Frankie licked her dry lips, less than eager to share her business with curious onlookers. She sighed. They'd know soon enough anyway. Gossip had a life of its own in this town.

"I have to go to St. Louis," she said, "and I didn't want to leave until morning, what with the roads the way they are. I've still got to call Katy, too, if the phones come back on. I didn't want to wake her up too early and scare her."

"You're gonna drive in this?" Ron looked horrified.

Brenda spoke first. "If you call Katy and Laura and tell them you're going out in this, it will scare them shitless, no matter what time of day it is. What are you thinking?"

"Trust me on this," Ron put in. "The weather's going no place but downhill. It ain't a fit day out for man nor beast."

Lynda added, "What earthly reason would send you on a trip like that today?"

"It's Johnny," Frankie said. "He needs me, whether he knows it or not."

The waitress frowned. "You haven't seen that guy in months, that I know of. Why are you doing this? You've been divorced for years."

"Have you two made up?" Brenda leaned forward on her stool, her eyes bright and hopeful.

Ron chuckled. "I'll bet that's it. I knew it was only a matter of time before you two did what you do best—marry each other one more time. I think it's kind of like going to Disneyland every few years, just to see if it's changed."

Brenda and Lynda laughed. Frankie didn't.

"He's been in an accident in St. Louis," she said. "Do you expect me to sit here and wait to hear what's going on when he's there all alone, in a coma?"

She'd really slapped it to them and they all looked appalled by their previous comments.

"Ah, hell." Ron's shoulders slumped. "What happened? Car wreck?"

"He hit a tree, so they tell me. They're not yet sure how much damage was done."

"Nevertheless," Brenda said gently, "you can't take this chance. Wait until the weather's better."

"I can't do that. There isn't time." Frankie opened an egg carton. "Want a couple of eggs while I'm at it, Brenda?"

"Yeah, I guess so. Frankie, it's too dangerous to try driving clear across the state of Missouri. I'd do anything for Johnny, and most in this town would, but you've got to remember that you're not married to him anymore. There's no need to risk your life."

"That's not the way I see it."

"You won't make it to Joplin," Ron predicted. "I just hope you slide into a ditch—a real shallow ditch— before you reach the Fairweather city limits sign. Then I can haul you home and lock you in."

Lynda added, "It won't do Johnny any good if you kill yourself on the way."

"I won't. I'm a good driver. I can do this."

"I don't think a NASCAR driver could do it on those roads," Ron said.

"I'll be careful. I'll drive slow."

"And whatcha gonna do about all the bad drivers hogging the roads? It'll take a miracle for you to get through to St. Louis in one piece."

"I believe in miracles," Frankie said softly. "I have to."

Lynda let out a gust of breath. "Then I'll believe, too. There's something special about you and Johnny, even considering all your ups and downs. I'll just say a prayer and wish you well."

"Thanks, Lynda. I knew I could count on you."

Frankie turned back to the grill where breakfast sizzled, gritting her teeth against her emotions. Reaching for the spatula, she heard Brenda telling Ron the latest.

"You hear about that Cannon girl who ran away from home a couple of days ago? I understand they caught her in the mall in Joplin with a walletful of her mother's credit cards."

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2012

    Recommend it.

    Well written and enjoyed every moment of the book. It was hard to put down at times.

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  • Posted November 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    fans will wonder how long marriage number four will survive.

    Although they are divorced Frankie Hale never stopped loving her former husband Johnny Davis. Thus when she receives a call in the middle of the night learning he was in a car accident due to crashing after skidding on icy road conditions and suffering an apaprent heart attack, Frankie waits until daylight to rush to St. Louis to be at his side. In town she goes immediately to Memorial Hospital in spite of horrific weather conditions and icy roads.<BR/><BR/>On the way over, Frankie muses over the past with her beloved Johnny and prays he will be okay. Johnny is euphoric to see his soulmate and tells her he loves her and misses her. They agree to remarry; hoping the fourth time between them is the permanent charm.<BR/><BR/>This is an intriguing romance starring two fascinating but underdeveloped characters. Much of the tale occurs in the past using flashbacks as readers learn the ballad of Frankie and Johnny contains three refrains and the beginning of a fourth though that is never fully explored. Obviously MEANT FOR EACH OTHER fans will wonder how long marriage number four will survive.<BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

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